Amanda Thrasher, Article, author, books, Cereal Authors, Life, Literary, Sharing, Social media, writer's life, YA

BACK TO SCHOOL – BULLIES DON’T CARE

Back to school is right around the corner; some kids have already started the new school year, while others make final preparations. Usually, it’s an exciting time, but some kids dread the thought of going back to the place they feel the most insecure or where they’re an easy target for others entertainment. Bullying comes in all forms such as verbal, physical, isolation, and bullies themselves are often hard to identify. Sometimes they’re the stranger in the shadows, others, they’re the most popular kids on campus, and sometimes they hide behind being kind and respectful. But these days any kid given the right circumstances such as being in a group egged on by their peers, hiding behind a device, can feel empowered, and  become hateful or bolder in their word choices than they normally would to others.

Social media has played a huge role over the years desensitizing kids to bullying acts that occur both physical and verbal. Behavior once considered unacceptable has slipped into the realm of socially acceptable, not only in teenage circles but often in households all across the world. Watering down meanness and turning it into humor is unsettling to me as a parent.

Outrageous name-calling or verbal onslaughts for the sake of the latest trend or lingo, can often turn conversations into subtle attacks that can cause harm and inflict damage in less than ten words. Especially if one has no idea how fragile the other person on the receiving end might be. Words and rumors causing reputations to be ruined, individuals isolated, and unfortunately, too many times we’re witnessing the unthinkable when tweens, teens, and sometimes even adults take their lives without a solid punch ever being swung. Weapon of choice these days? Phones mostly, but bullies aren’t limited to those, tablets, and the ol’ desk top still works as well. 

Teen language and lingo is so foreign to me, it changes daily, and I have two teens still at home. It often sounds like slang bombardments with laughter attached. “I hate you.” “Everyone hates you.” “No one likes you.” “Drink bleach.” “Kill my self.” And I hate this one, “Kill yourself.” “Do it!”

If questioned the standard answer is the same, “I was just kidding,” or “It’s a joke.” Alternatively, “I didn’t mean it!” But unfortunately, fragile teens will take those type of words literally to heart. It wears on them and breaks them down. One has no idea of the fragile state of mind of young teens, many who are legally medicated without others knowledge.

According to the CDC, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. However, for every successful suicide, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Unfortunately, many of those are related to bullying. Cyberbullying is experienced on some level by many kids today. Kids are killing themselves because the bullying is torturing them and affecting them to such a degree they’d rather be dead. How disturbing is that! Again, no one can tell how the fragile state of mind is of the child on the receiving end. Disturbing.

I was inspired to write a book that addresses bullying and teens, The Greenlee Project, it’s a MCA® winner for YA and General Fiction and has been named among the best in family-friendly media, products, and services by the Mom’s Choice Awards®. It also won for YA and General Fiction at NTBF. The Greenlee Project demonstrates the effect of using social media negatively. How it affects the victim, family, friends, communities, and even the bully or bullies that are sending the damaging texts. So-called good kids, unexpectedly, become the so-called bad kids. How? Easy, one touch of a button; send!

During my research for The Greenlee Project, I observed teens on different campuses, sat at football games and in cafeterias with the teens. Visited libraries, and interviewed teens, teachers, parents, and counselors. I have teens of my own, and my house is often full of kids. But I can honestly say I was shocked about some of the things I learned during my research.

We all know that bullying has existed for years, but no one will argue today it’s a different world. Social media can put the victim on a public platform delivering the maximum amount of damage within seconds. It spreads like wildfire. 

We can’t take away nor do I suggest taking away devices. But be vigilant. Watch your teens. Bullies pick on kids of all sizes and economic status. They do not discriminate and most victims, once tweens or teens, do not openly share their feeling of being abused by other kids. If you’re looking for a book that will open up a conversation about this topic, girls, and boys, read The Greenlee Project with your teen. I gurarentee emotions will brought to the surface and a discussion will start. There are even discussion questions in the back of the book to assist with the topic. Don’t wait. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.

Greenlee Lynn Granger is about to find out the meaning of technology used as a malicious tool: a normal teen one day, and ruined the next. Who knew a boy’s affections could turn her life into such turmoil? Becoming a designated project, a joke in front of the whole school, turns Greenlee’s life upside down. What she does next is shocking. An emotional glimpse into the reality of cyber bullying : cruel betrayal of such magnitude devastates Greenlee. Greenlee knows her choices will determine the future of her abusers. Her relationship with her family and friends strained, she’s forced to make mature decisions. Cyber bullying affects the victims and everyone who surrounds them. What a waste: what path will Greenlee, her persecutor, and family take?
We have all seen the devastating and lasting effects upon children, teens, their families, and the community as a whole, due to bullying and cyber bullying. This book sheds light on the impact that the bullying act has not only on the victim but also on the families of the victim and the bully, teachers, communities, friends and the person acting as the bully. Greenlee’s strength, courage and determination to stand up and right this grievous wrong is encouraging and inspiring. Greenlee could be any girl, anywhere, in America. And Clay Monning, a star athlete, could be any parent’s great kid. Peer pressure, bad decisions with horrific consequences, changes everything for both of them. Good kids, turned bad. How? Social media.

Reviewed by Stephen Fisher for Readers’ Favorite

The Greenlee Project by Amanda thrasher is a brilliantly written story about a selected few students who are considered to be the B.P. (Beautiful People) who truly believe that it is they who run the high school that they attend in today’s electronic society. The story begins with Greenlee Granger, a fourteen-year-old girl who is going through a huge social dilemma at school. After her father drops her off at school, instead of going inside, she decides to take a long ride on a public bus. Time doesn’t seem to exist until she finally gets let off, God knows where, in a town 20 miles away. She finally gets back to reality and calls her father to pick her up.

From here the story unfolds as you get to know her circle of friends and social status, as well as the cute new boy that just transferred to her school. Clay joins the football team because he was the star quarterback where he came from. Now he has to prove himself and make the team. When it comes time for him to be initiated, he is allowed to decide the ritual, and sets out to make it a memorable one, so he proposes “The Greenlee Project.” The only people that can know about the initiation are his new team mates. That is until queen bee, Laurel, sets her sights on Clay as well.

Amanda Thrasher does a superb job of describing the intense situations that arise when the elite crowd’s attention is threatened by those that they feel are beneath them. Ms. Thrasher also delivers the pressures that the B.P. experience to maintain their status quo. All of her characters are well developed and, by the end of this powerful story, Amanda adds some unexpected surprises that really put a twist in the outcome. The Greenlee Project is an eye opening, powerfully written book that I highly recommend for teenagers, faculty, and parents. Well done!

Author Website Amanda M Thrasher

The Greenlee Project

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Amanda Thrasher, author, books, Cereal Authors, Character Quotes, Excerpts, Fiction, Life, Literary, Sharing, YA

BITTER BETRAYAL

5 Stars – Reviewed By Ankita Shula for Readers’ Favorite

Bitter Betrayal by Amanda M. Thrasher is a book with a purpose. She aims at educating teenagers about how their idea of “just having fun” can actually spoil their future. Payton, a sixteen-year-old teenager, is head-over-heels in love with Reece, a senior at a different school. In her head, she can see herself marrying Reece and spending the rest of her life with him. As romantic as it sounds, their teenage love — like any other love — has its own share of problems. Although Reece keeps trying to go all the way with Payton, she respectfully declines him every time. She is not ready to go down that road, just yet. She second guesses her decision every now and then, but is determined to wait until she is ready. Trouble knocks on their door when the coach’s daughter, Stacie, enters their lives. The green eyed monster is blinding Payton with jealousy and this is affecting her romantic life with Reece.

The author, Amanda M. Thrasher, has highlighted one very important problem that follows when teenagers consume alcohol. Being a teenager is difficult enough as it is, but adding alcohol doesn’t make it any easier. The book is not just about the after effects of consuming alcohol; it also focuses on how it might impact the teenagers and their families. With the social media boom, can any secret remain buried for long? Bitter Betrayal is written in a very impressive style. Payton’s conflicting thoughts and inner struggles would seem relatable to every teenage girl who is in love. There are so many emotions to deal with that Payton finds herself mostly overwhelmed. Reece, like any other teenage boy, finds his girlfriend’s emotions annoying and irrational. He is, however, not a negative character. He respects Payton’s decision to wait until she is ready. He doesn’t push her to give in to his desires. There is a lot to learn from this book. I wish that parents would encourage their teenagers to read Bitter Betrayal and learn from it. An impressive plot, excellent story-telling, and smooth development of the story make this very readable.

Chapter 9

She’s One of Us

Several of them met at their usual Mexican restaurant for lunch. It was good, but more importantly, it was cheap. Trevor was the only guy who brought his girl, the new girl, Stacie. The boys gave him a hard time at first, but after a few minutes no one seemed to care, and she didn’t mind that they were harassing her boyfriend. She just kept eating; everyone noticed that, refreshing. She ate like them; she didn’t pick at her food, she actually ate it. And she didn’t turn up her nose at how much or what they ate. She even slouched just a bit. Most girls Reece knew, including Payton, were hesitant about eating in front of the guys. This girl couldn’t care less. He hadn’t counted them all, but he’d seen her put away four tacos while they were sitting there. She also contributed to their conversation. Real stuff. Trevor hadn’t mentioned she was the outdoor type, but she talked football, deer season opener and, of all things, trucks. She held her own when they talked about their last game, and even bitched about Trevor’s truck for all the right reasons! Clearly she had brothers, or her dad wanted a boy and got stuck with her. Witty, hot, ate like a horse but didn’t look like one, liked sports, had a great laugh, and didn’t seem to notice that she was way out of Trevor’s league. Damn! That girl was a keeper. She had all the boys mesmerized, not just Reese, but part of her charm was that she didn’t know it, nor care. Her mannerisms reminded Reece of Royce’s girl, Jenna; she was hot. A text brought him back to his girlfriend, Payton.

 

Payton: TOY 143

(Thinking of you, I love you)

Reece: love ya babe

 

         Straight to the words he knew she wanted him to say. Cut it short so he could finish eating and listening to everyone else. Just as he slipped his phone back into his pocket, the table erupted into laughter. Everyone was staring at Stacie’s screen, a clip she’d been describing, and she’d pulled it up.

“I know, right? Who would’ve believed it?” She laughed.

“I’m trying to get it to go viral, see how many hits it’s got already?” Her face beamed.

“Damn!” Duncan screeched. “No freaking way! How’d you capture that?”

Trevor replayed the video again, realizing his friends were stunned. Reece reached out his hand and took the phone. Trevor didn’t object.

“What is it?” Reece asked.

“Dude, check this pass out and who caught it.” Trevor pointed to the phone. “It’s freaking awesome!’

They weren’t kidding. Reece had the same reaction they did.

“Whoa! Seriously!”

“Hell yeah,” Stacie hollered. “That’s exactly who you think it is!” She laughed. “That’s my boy, right there, doing it!”

“How’d you capture that?” Reece asked. “Looks like you’re right there, on the side lines.” Puzzled, he asked, “Why are you there?”

Stacie took a bite out of her taco and did something Payton would never do: spoke with her mouth full, kinda gross, but funny.

“Cause I was, there, hanging with my dad.”

“Wait, what?” Reece looked shocked. “Hanging with your dad. How’s that possible, what does he do?”

Stacie swallowed her food and started to laugh. “Fool, how may people in this town do you think have the name Wiggins?”

“You’re kidding me! You’re the kid of the new defense coach they brought in?” Reece asked, and then stared at Trevor. “Trev! C’mon man!”

“Dude, she didn’t want me to say anything. Figured ya’ll would figure it out.”

“I was wrong.” She laughed.

That wasn’t a small deal. No one thought to mention that crap?! Hell, if Reece didn’t want to leave Texas as badly as he wanted to, he’d consider playing for them. The guy, evidently her dad, had been all over the media for months. Recruited for the university when they didn’t renew the contract of their last defensive coordinator. They had high expectations for Coach Wiggins; his reputation preceded him, he had an exceptional record.

“Wow! That’s cool!” Reece stated and he really meant it. “Really cool!”

“Hey Stacie, can we meet him, Coach? I guess your dad,” Shane asked, grinned and added, “you don’t know if you don’t ask, right?”

“Yes, I’ll introduce you morons to him.” She grinned. “No, he won’t care, and yes he’ll let you hang at the field with me sometime.”

Trevor had just elevated his position to a level he couldn’t begin to imagine with his friends. He was proud of his new girl. No wonder she was so confident around guys; she’d been around him her whole life, not to mention all the players over the years she must’ve hung out with. Everyone knew the coach was coming, but they didn’t know much about his family. Now his daughter was their new best friend, at least to them. Hanging with the coach’s kid. Trevor, of all people—now she was one of them!

Half in fun and half dead serious, Shane playfully shoved his friend, Trevor, knocked his cap off his head and asked Stacie a question.

“How come you’re with this joker right here? I’m available!”

Trevor placed his ball cap back on his head and waited to see what she’d say. He was as surprised as they were that this girl had actually said yes and gone out with him, let alone stuck around. Reece’s ear perked up. Why was a girl like that with Trevor? He liked Trevor, but seriously. Stacie had their attention as they walked back to the truck. The ridiculous seriousness of the question they were trying to get an answer to caused her to burst out laughing.

“OMG, you idiots. What do you expect me to say? He’s Trevor.” She grabbed his arm. “He’s nice, why not?”

“Well hell, you’re not gonna hear me complain!” Trevor said, throwing up his arms.

“Hail Trevor!” Chase laughed.

“Will you let us know when we can go to practice, then?” Shane asked. “I can’t wait to meet Dustin Miller.”

She nodded. “But I think I should have everyone over first, like a meet-and-greet of my new friends.” She laughed. “I swear, you better be on your best behavior. All of you!”

Reece couldn’t wait to tell his dad and Royce he was going to Coach’s house. She’d even said Payton could go. He wasn’t sure how thrilled Payton would be, but she’d have to deal. The question was, how quickly could she plan it? They were all ready!

 

BITTER BETRAYAL

Amanda M. Thrasher